I devised a set of 10 comparative tests (4 that are of an overall quality nature that do not depend a lot on the music being played; 6 that compare the clarity of specific acoustic "events" in certain music). I describe the test methods more fully here http://www.head-fi.org/t/704826/how-do-you-audition-compare-headphones#post_10340917 .
I applied these tests as reported in an earlier post, here, http://www.head-fi.org/t/708912/comparing-grado-ps-500-hifiman-he-500-and-sennheiser-hd-598-quasi-objective-tests#post_10341007 , to compare the Grado PS500, the HiFiMan HE500, and (again) the Sennheiser HD 598.
I also applied these same tests to compare the Sennheiser HD 598, the Beats Studio 2013, and the Beats Pro, here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/714784/comparing-sennheiser-hd-598-beats-studio-2013-and-beats-pro-quasi-objective-tests#post_10461632
As before, I used three pieces of music (Song 1 - rock with two singers, guitar, bass, and drums, Song 2 - jazz with very small group of vocalist, piano, bass, and shaker, and Song 3 - bombastic classical with organ and orchestra).
Rather than trying to give an absolute score to each headphone for each criterion, I simply rank ordered them, based on back-and-forth pairwise listening for each test and each pair of the three headphones (took between and hour and an hour and a half). The iPod Touch 5G was used without amplifier.
The overall, or "macro tests," were briefly (more detail in post cited above):
- Size, both horizontal and vertical, of sound stage;
- Resolution of position of two persons singing near each other;
- Volume of headphone with iPod turned up all the way.
The event-based tests were:
- "Twang" of drumhead at entrance to Song 1;
- Preservation of features allowing me to determine pitch of bass notes in Song1 Verse 3)
- Finger pluck at start of bass notes at start of Song 2;
- Clarity of shaker, preserving differences of each shake, in Song 2 Verse 3;
- "Ripping" sound characteristic of horns and medium low reed organ pipes at start of Song 3;
- Ability to hear additional echoing chord stacked upon a huge bombast of sustained full orchestra and organ four beats later, in about third "verse" of Song 3.
Here is the result of my comparison. A 3 indicates that headphone was the best of the three in that test and contributes 3 points to an eventual headphone score totaled at the end... a 1 means it was the worst.
|Test||Sennheiser HD 598||NAD VISO hp50||Beats Pro|
|Width of sound st||3||1||2|
|Bass pitch perception||3||2||1|
|Bass finger pluck||2||3||1|
|"Ripping" of organ/brass||3||2||1|
|Discern added chord||3||1||2|
As with the comparison with the Beats Studio 2013 and Beats Pro, the Sennheiser HD 598 was far preferable to me than either the NAD VISO hp50 or the Beats Pro, with the NAD VISO hp50 being somewhat preferable to the Beats Pro. However, for the hip-hop music that I enjoy, the "grab-you-by-the-throat-and-shake-you" bass, not tested for in the above tests, keeps the Beats Pro in active use, as it is the only one of the three that provides it.
I soon can combine the rankings of the Grado PS500, Sennheiser HD 598, NAD VISO hp50, Beats Pro, and Beats Studio 2013 into a master table (unless I first decide to compare the Beats Studio 2013 *wireless*, the Parrot Zik wireless, and the Sennheiser PXC 310BT wireless, all also providing noise cancellation, first!)